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UC Santa Cruz

LOT 306

UC Santa Cruz

University of California, Santa Cruz

Team Members
Parker Morell, Sue Carter, Stevan Servin, Kiaya Moser, Carey Williams, Mana Iwata, Walker Mayer, Emma Adams, Eli Nygren, Ethan Palmer, Pete Lira, Walker Mayer, Hayden Johnson, Kyle Worcester-Moore

Our unique design, “EcoHus”, encapsulates the need for sustainable and market-ready affordable homes by comprising a shipping container home within a greenhouse, creating a home from recycled and sustainable materials that can operate entirely off-grid using our 10 kW PV and 20 kW-hr battery power system, provides plentiful water using our rainwater capture and recycling system, and has ample space for growing food under protected conditions to feed a family of 4.

Our team evolved from the Carter’s lab applied physics students who had dreams of building an affordable sustainable home, and they partnered up with Rachel Carson College, where Carter is Provost, to bring in resources and more students to make their dreams a reality. Our team consists of students from the Engineering, Physical and Biological Sciences, Social Sciences and Arts Divisions at UCSC. Since UCSC has no management, architecture, construction or other professional schools, so students on this project have had to put on many hats to design, construct, and market our unique home.

1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064

Model Home


UC Santa Cruz

Target Market


The UCSC EcoHus is a 2 bed+office, 2 bath house within a greenhouse. Ecohus is designed to provide an affordable home to middle income Californian families (making $80K per year) that provides all the power, water, internet, and protected food production to support a family of 4 or more in an off-grid location in inland and foothill regions of California where most affordable undeveloped land is available. The Ecohus consists of 1000 sq ft of conditioned living space, 400 sq ft of dedicated protected garden beds for food production, and an additional 1000 sq ft of unconditioned space protected from weather and insects that can be utilized for natural living, garden, workshop, storage, garage or other uses. It has a 11.8 kW PV system, 30 kWhr battery system and 2 inverters providing up to 13 kW (120V and 240V), features rainwater capture over its entire 1800 sq ft roof and uses recycled water for toilet flushing and plant watering.

We offer 3 models: the EcoHus, EcoHus+, and EcoHus2, ranging from 2 bed+office 2 bath to a 5 bed+office, 4 bath for medium-income single and multiple families, which fuse indoor and outdoor living through the addition of enclosed outdoor living and gardening space.

We offer two variants, the EcoHus+ ($245,000, 3 bed+office, 3.5 bath 1500 sq ft) and EcoHus2 ($295,000, 5 bedroom+office, 4 bath 2250 sq ft) that provides affordable extended or multiple family housing as extensions of the EcoHus. Working within our standard 60’ x 29’ greenhouse frame, extra conditioned space is gained by either converting the greenhouse space on ground floor (EcoHus+) to a 1 bed (loft), 1.5 bath ADU unit (500 sq ft) or by creating a 2nd story (1100 sq ft) above the shipping containers and adding a transition entrance between two floors (150 sqft) (EcoHus2). The EcoHus 2 uses a higher greenhouse (24′ max height) to make room for 2nd floor. The extra baths and kitchenette on 2nd floor are contained in a 3rd shipping container stacked on the 1st floor containers. A 2-car (24′ x 20′) carport with integrated deck that attaches to the 2nd floor greenhouse area can be added for $10,000, and the power system can be expanded to 20 kW, 50 kWhr battery storage with an additional inverter for ev charging and/or house expansion for an additional $20,000.

Business Profile

EcoHus Homes

EcoHus Homes homes provide custom-designed shipping container homes within a greenhouse that are fully self-sustaining, suitable for off-grid operation and homesteads in rural California. We enable the average California family to build their own affordable and sustainable custom home on undeveloped land by including a full set of stamped engineered plans ready for county submittal and by assisting landowners to become owner-builders and stepping them through the entire financing, grant and permitting process, zoning rules, development of a site plan, and hiring of individual contractors.

EcoHus Homes was founded in 2023 as a minority and disabled-veteran owned business with the goal of helping average Californians build affordable sustainable homes on undeveloped at costs less than traditional houses of similar size and location. Our team builds upon decades of experience building and permitting houses on bare land throughout California and several years of experience living in and operating fully permitted off-grid homes. We assist landowners to become owner-builders and guide them through the entire land purchase, financing and permitting process, development of a site plan, hiring and working with contractors, and identifying ways for DIYers can save money based on their individual skills and interest. The purchase of an EcoHus homes comes with these services for free and a full set of custom house plans ready for county submittal. If desired, we will manage the entire project, including applying for and obtaining all building permits and managing all contractors, for a 10% project fee. Our target market is to provide our homes and home development services to moderate income Californians ($70,000 and above income) desiring to live in more-rural areas (lot size > 0.25 acres) of inland and foothill regions of California. Our business is located on Carter’s off-grid property in Riverside CA that allows us to pre-build the shipping container portion of the homes using off-grid power. This 5-acre site has enough land to work on 3 EcoHus homes at once (and model) which leads to greater efficiency in material usage and labor. We are currently applying for grants, taking advantage of our veteran owned status, to fund company in early stages and anticipate also receiving over $250,000 in starting capital from profits on a new EcoHus build on land owned in Temecula.